We live in a world that is ever changing and evolving into a faster and faster pace. Consequently, our response time to information that is presented to us has become more immediate. Such a scenario makes it difficult to both truly listen and to truly be heard. People have become accustomed to not spending the time to cultivate this crucial communication skill. The results of neglecting mastering the skill of listening can be devastating to the significant relationships we have in our lives. Universally, people complain that others just don’t listen. Parents claim this of their children. Children are convinced that their parents barely try to listen to them. Wives are desperate for their husbands’ attention while husbands often feel their wives don’t hear them. A large majority of our society complains that they are just not being heard. So what’s going on here? What does it mean to truly listen and allow someone’s voice to be heard?

Listening demonstrates love, unconditional love. In creating intimate relationships with those we love, we want to be able to share our doubts, fears, mistakes, dreams and passions. We long for these emotions to be embraced by those with whom we choose to share them. In order to do so, we have to be confident that we will be truly heard, not judged, blamed, advised, or interrupted. Listening provides comfort, recognition, an intimate bond, as well as offering clarity to ones thoughts and emotions. To listen to another is to give them the gift of valuing their unique needs and inner self.

When one is rarely listened to, whether it be a spouse, child, employee or friend, they may choose, consciously or unconsciously, to stop trying to express themselves as they begin to realize that their attempts to be heard are futile and not well received. The results of such a decision can be serious and damaging.

While the absence of listening is debilitating to relationships, the reality of listening provides a beautiful bonding interaction between two people solidifying their relationship. Listening frees us to share our true self with another creating a more gratifying interaction.

To increase the art of listening in your everyday relationships, try to incorporate the following into your communication with others:

1. When someone is speaking and sharing their thoughts and feelings, allow the focus to be on what they are saying as opposed to what you are thinking.

2. Paraphrase what you have heard to ensure that you have complete understanding of what they are sharing with you.

3. Refrain from sharing your own opinions, reactions or advice until the individual has had an opportunity to fully express their thoughts and feelings.

4. Seek to understand the other person for who they are and not what you think they should be, separating your ego and needs from the conversation.

5. Be conscious of your body language making sure to make eye contact and refraining from engaging in other activities as the individual is sharing with you.

Sole Life Coaching, Pennington, New Jersey. 609-737-9980. email: esav1@aol.com www.elizabethsavino.com

Elizabeth Savino is Personal Life Coach and founder of Sole Life Coaching located in Pennington, New Jersey. She specializes in working with women in transition and promoting empowerment to promote positive change. Elizabeth graduated from Bowling Green State University with a degree in Special Education. She has studied coaching through Mentor Coach and Coach U which are coaching schools that train individuals to become Certified Coaches recognized by the International Coach Federation of which she is also a member.

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